Yper Museum wins the first BADGES Award

On the fifth of September, the first BADGES conference took place at Alden Biesen in Belgium. 60 participants who share a love for cultural heritage enjoyed a day filled with lectures, workshops and networking. Climax of the day? The announcement of the BADGES Award winner. Yper Museum delivered the best project about learning in and through heritage and took the award home!

To kick off the conference, the 60 participants got an introduction to BADGES followed by a keynote given by Stephane Berghmans from Technopolis, an interactive science museum in Mechelen. Next up: the Italian project Monumenti Aperti, a project that unites kids and culture. Before lunch, Tim Scholze and Sara Wiemann explained what BADGES can offer you: a framework to shape attractive competence-oriented learning in heritage institutions.

After the walking lunch and inspiration fair, visitors could attend one of three workshops about how to use the BADGES methodology – which consists of a standardized European validation and award system – in natural heritage contexts, heritage sites or museums and exhibitions.

The award ceremony was the end of an inspiring day. The selected projects were presented with movies and interviews. Out of the three nominees – Hidrodoe, Yper Museum and Kassel – Yper Museum was very proud to receive the very first BADGES award for their project Stoeten doen ontmoeten. With this project, the museum wants to introduce children to their local traditions, heritage and more. It offers a framework that stimulates reflection on traditions and how to maintain them for future generations.

Stoeten doen ontmoeten consists of various activities to celebrate the traditions of the Westhoek. The project launched with a virtual procession Y’parade in 2017. Since 2018, Yper Museum tries to keep the tradition of Sint-Maarten and the use of bietenlantaarns – lanterns made of beets – alive. This year, the children of Voormezele will take on the role of journalists and make a documentary about the Heilig Bloedprocessie.

Yper Museum united children and their local culture in a fun, creative and captivating way. That’s why they deserve the first BADGES Award. Congratulations!

Transnational meeting in Cagliari

On the 13th and 14th of May, the partners of the Erasmus+ project came together in Cagliari (Sardinia, Italy). We teamed up in Exma, a former slaughter house, recently transformed into a museum of ‘Exhibiting and Moving Arts’. On the first day every partner presented their pilot project with the badging system. Best practices and ideas were exchanged. It seems BADGES works very well as a method for informal learning and can be used in many different settings, ranging from visiting a learning island in Portugal or discovering windmills in Holland to participating in an arts festival for disabled people in Belgium.

During the second day we exchanged ideas with the partners of DELPHI, an Erasmus+ project working on heritage interpretation. The afternoon was spent discussing the BADGES methodology, competence framework, validation system, digital badge system, toolkit, etc. Plans were made for the final conference in Alden Biesen (see above). All this was discussed over delicious Italian food, amidst deep cultural heritage, which most of the participants had the chance to discover earlier during Monumenti Aperti on the 12th of May. The students who showed tourists around in Exma also used BADGES. The perfect context for this transnational meeting!

Loon BADGES pilot selected by the European Commission

In cultural heritage contexts there is great potential for informal learning and lifelong learning. A lot of cultural and natural heritage sites nowadays are rightly playing the education card. But most of the educational activities are solely focused on youngsters and school children, and on gaining (historical) knowledge. Furthermore, learning is hardly ever ‘acknowledged’ and ‘validated’.

Therefore, a European consortium, coordinated by the Landkreis Kassel (DE), started the new Erasmus+ project BADGES, aiming at giving heritage learning the place it deserves in ‘lifelong learning’. In cooperation with various partners, the consortium unites heritage sites and public institutions, public relations agencies, and learning concept developers specialized in validation of non-formal and informal learning.

BADGES wants to install a standardized European validation and award system by issuing electronic badges on quality learning approaches and validation of non-formal learning in heritage contexts. Imagine a youngster or an adult visiting a participating museum, a nature park or an historic site, where they can watch, listen, act, participate and … learn. At the end of the visit or, back at home, he/she gets the opportunity to give proof of what he/she learned and is awarded with a … digital badge!

1000 YEARS COUNTY OF LOON, an historic exhibition ready for badging!

The Landcommanderij Alden Biesen in Belgium, a BADGES partner, was the scene for the first pilot project, testing the BADGES approach. To guide participants through the exhibition about the historic Flemish region ‘graafschap Loon’, an (optional) badging system was developed.
Next to a paper version, the BADGES project also provides an app for mobile devices, developed in cooperation with REVEAL (The European Research and Development Network for Competence Oriented Learning and Validation) and CNR (Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche, Palermo, IT).

People who are interested are challenged with extra assignments and intrigued by information, visuals or sounds on different spots throughout the exhibition. With these incentives, visitors are inspired to think about and look at things in an alternative way. The results of every participant are saved online and an electronic Loon Badge is sent to every participating visitor.

Logically, this innovative and daring project is accompanied by various challenges. However, this doesn’t stop the partners of the BADGES project to chase their final goal: to help develop the learning potential in cultural heritage environments and to create a badging culture to award individual learning steps.

The Loon BADGES pilot was selected by the European Commission, DG EAC, Erasmus+ as a good practice example and features as a beautiful video clip.

Trainingcourse in Peniche

In October, the participating partners of the Erasmus+ project came together in Peniche (Portugal), for a joint staff training course. A five-day course during which the participants got acquainted with the project’s innovative methodology, reached stage and its following steps and ultimate objectives. All the participants were prepped and inspired to start up a pilot project. Working groups examined and developed pilot cases with a badging system. The participants also visited a pilot case on a day out: a nature reserve on a private island that is located one hour by boat from Peniche. With the aid of a badging system they want to create awareness among the visitors about the protection of the environment of this site and its endangered plant species. A great example of the future prospects of the BADGES project!

Learning happens everywhere

Project Badges has taken the next step towards implementation of Badges in the heritage sector during the second transnational meeting in Cagliari Sardinia. During this meeting the project team visited one of the great examples of informal learning in the heritage sector: the initiative “Monumenti Aperti”. It is the most important festival dedicated to the promotion of the Sardinian cultural heritage. The event is organized by Imago Mundi, partner in the project.

New Erasmus+ Project: Badges

Badges for non-formal learning in heritage & cultural settings

Initial (formal) education and training does not longer suffice for a learner in the rapidly changing society and work environment in present Europe. Additional training, continuous training, adult education, non-formal learning, informal learning, workplace learning … are all elements in the concept of Lifelong Learning as an answer to the needs for education and training in the world of today.

In non-formal learning contexts there is less ‘ground’ for input based validation since there is less control on the quality of this input and the context in which this input is offered. A person, on the other hand can be ‘able’ to do the right thing in the right context. Why not validating this ‘ability’, no matter in what context it is acquired? Time to focus on output based validation: learning outcomes and performed competences.

For a person there are many more places and circumstances in life – outside school and outside the workplace – to acquire and develop competences. The voluntary sector, the civil (social participation) sector and the cultural sector offer a wide span of opportunities to develop competences – other than work-related competences – that are valuable for personal and professional development.

Therefore a European consortium, coordinated by the LandKreis Kassel (DE), starts a new Erasmus+ project: BADGES for quality learning approaches and validation of non-formal learning in cultural/heritage contexts. The Badges project wants to install a standardised European validation and award system by issuing electronic badges based on quality learning approaches and validation of non-formal learning in cultural / heritage contexts.

The project will:

  • develop a methodological framework for creating the appropriate approach and conditions for competence based non-formal learning in cultural/heritage context
  • develop a methodology for defining appropriate cultural place based competences, linked to the place, to the functioning and mission of the site and fitting the needs and priorities of ET 2020
  • develop standards for culture related place based learning through learning path development for cultural & heritage sites
  • develop a standard approach to evidencing and validating the non-formal learning in cultural contexts
  • design a span of meaningful badges related to types of competences and acquisition levels
  • help create a ‘badging culture’ as part of an approach to personal and professional development and to employability


Transnational Kick-off meeting!

In November 2017, all partners united for a transnational meeting in Kassel (Germany). This was the perfect opportunity to getting to know all the partners and their project related experiences. During this meeting the partners talked about the report on learning valorisation in cultural experiences. After this, the BADGES Methodology and validation were discussed. On the second day, a interesting discussion on the instruments to develop for individual learning pathways in heritage contexts was main topic. To finalise the transnational meeting, the partners looked to the future: decisions on project management and dissemination were made.

Partners: Landkreis Kassel (DE), Landcommanderij Alden Biesen (BE), BUPNET Bildung und Project Netzwerk (DE), Instituto Politecnico de Leiria (PT), Trendhuis (BE), Malopolska Institute of Culture (PL), PLATO – Leiden Univ. (NL) and Associazione Culturale Imago Mundi Onlus (IT)